Psalm 26:1 (ESV)
Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
I do not know when Psalm 26 was written. If there is any chronology to the Psalms at all, then we might be able to assume that it was before the sin with Bathsheba and the sins surrounding it. Was it before he married badly and let work manage his life so that he neglected to raise his sons? We are a frail lot. Sin sneaks up on us. We can start out so well and assume that doing well is our default position and neglect to guard our hearts and minds. When David says, in Psalm 26, that he had trusted the Lord without wavering, he knew that he was not perfect. In verse 11 he asks God to redeem him and be gracious to him. But he could honestly say that in whatever circumstances he had been in to this point he had not forsaken God or forgotten about Him. He has been faithful and his faith had not weakened through things that had tempted it.
We can surmise a few things about some of the temptations that had come David’s way that helped prompt this psalm.
a)He had opportunity to align himself with liars and hypocrites and enjoy the fruits of their deceit (verse 4-5). One pictures a group of young men planning or discussing sexual escapades or shady business deals or simply partying themselves into a stupor. David distanced himself from such things and no doubt paid the price of being ostracized.
b)What David chose to do instead was evangelize those he could have consorted with (verse 7). One can only imagine how well that would have gone over. David would have been ridiculed. His peers would have rolled their eyes when they saw him coming. “Here comes Mr. Goody Two-Shoes”.
c)David’s response was to find solace in the tabernacle in Jerusalem. Who knows? Perhaps even then he began thinking how good it would be if God’s house was a more permanent structure than a tent.
d)David was a real man with real feelings and real temptations and he felt the longing for acceptance that all of us feel and so he prayed that he would not be swept away into the sin that others were immersed in (verses 9&10). It is so hard not to give in to the pull to be accepted by the crowd and by one’s peers. So he resolved not to fall into their ways (verses 11-12).
David was a remarkable young man. And yet we know that after he became king he became a little less vigilant and got infected somewhat with the sense of entitlement that being the head honcho can bring. He took a man’s wife, a man’s life, a woman’s integrity, a country’s trust, his own heart and more.
Psalm 26 is an amazing example of what God can do in even a young man. We do not have to go with the crowd. God can and will enable all who trust Him to endure with joy. But we all need to remember that yesterday’s victories cannot be borrowed from for today’s battle. We need to keep our armour on and keep our weapons ready and know that our enemy is relentless and devious and smart. It is easy as we get older to think that there are some sins that we have mastered and will not commit. We can think that because we are more experienced or more knowledgeable than we used to be that there are certain sins that we cannot commit. This is the height of foolishness. We may grow more mellow, but we do not become more holy simply on the basis of age and experience. We are in constant need of the grace of God.
As a young man David prayed for grace and redemption and was therefore able to claim that he stood on good ground (verse 12). Somehow he let go of that God given confidence and fell. The whole episode of David’s sin and rescue is testimony to the great grace and mercy of God. Even when we are doing well spiritually, we are in need of God’s redemption and grace (verse 11). But we can easily fall into thinking that our sins are small and that we will never fall into “big” sins. It is the devil’s lie. Let us resolve to stand faithful and never forget that the day we let our guard down is the day that we will start drifting away from our God and into a life that is being run without him. The result will be ruin and rebellion. God will be there for us and His almighty grace will rescue, but only if we truly repent and who can say that we would want to do that? The best thing is to make sure that we never relax until the war is over. And that is when we see Him face to face.